China will continue to reinforce its efforts to improve living and working conditions for 28 ethnic groups that have populations of less than 300,000 each, the deputy director of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission said on Sept 25.
“Priorities were set to provide the villages inhabited by less-populous ethnic groups with access to five types of infrastructure services and 10 living and working facilities by 2015,” Luo Liming said at a news conference of the State Council Information Office.
The benefits include asphalt roads; electricity; radio and television; telecommunications; biogas; safe drinking water; homes for settlement; clean toilet facilities; high and stable-yield basic farms to increase residents’ income and basic education resources.
The Program to Support the Development of Ethnic Groups with Less Population, written into China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), is a series of social and economic development initiatives. It is aimed at providing support to the compact communities of 28 ethnic groups, with a focus on 2,119 villages.
From 2011 to 2014, the central government arranged special funds of 5.17 billion yuan ($843 million) to implement more than 7,000 projects of infrastructure, productivity and social development.
According to the commission, more than 24,000 kilometers of rural highway was constructed or extended, more than 10,000 rural irrigation and water conservancy facilities built and 185,000 sq km of clinics and recreational rooms added in the areas from 2011 to 2013.
By the end of 2013, the per-capita net income of farmers and herdsmen in the 2,119 villages was 5,179 yuan, up 47 percent from 2010.
China has 55 ethnic groups, most of which live in remote and mountainous areas. Their development is hindered by unfavorable natural environments and historical problems.
“The central government introduced the program to help the ethnic groups get equal opportunities for development and launched different policies for them in consideration of their own conditions,” Luo said.
In the development plan from 2005 to 2010 for ethnic groups with small populations, 22 ethnic groups gained support from the central government. With China’s overall rapid economic growth, more assistance is allotted to an additional six ethnic groups in the 12th Five-Year Plan.